26th July 13
Before I go, what sort of A Levels will I need?
You will need a very good grade in A Level Maths. Virtually all the top universities in the country require at least an A or A* at A Level. If you can do Further Maths as well, that will be even better. A science A Level like Physics, Chemistry or Biology would be advantageous as well. Some universities will look more favourably on candidates that have A Levels in other technical subjects like Economics or Design and Technology.
I’ve noticed that some universities offer a MEng and some a BEng. What’s the difference?
I’m glad you asked. A Bachelor of Engineering (BEng) degree is a three year course which covers all the essential material you will need to become a Mechanical Engineer. It’s ideal for people who want an engineering degree but don’t necessarily plan on becoming a chartered engineer. Often a BEng will be more attractive to overseas students as it usually satisfies all the requirements they need to become a professional back in their home country.
A Masters of Engineering (MEng) degree is a four year course containing pretty much all of what is taught in the BEng course, as well allowing you to specialise in a specific type of engineering, providing a more focussed and in depth study than the BEng offers. MEng graduates claim that they found it easier to become a chartered engineer than those who had a BEng, and that some companies look more favourable on graduates with a MEng.
Most universities will allow their students to change from a BEng to a MEng before the end of the second year of study providing they meet certain academic standards.
Where should I go and study?
University of Cambridge – Department of Engineering – (Four Year MEng Course)
Cambridge can and will ask you for the very best grades. Expect A*AA, A*AAA or A*AAB at A Level. You’ll definitely need Maths and Physics, and you are strongly encouraged to have Further Maths as well. Another A Level in a third Maths or Science or technology subject is desirable as well.
Cambridge offer a very broad Engineering Degree. You will most likely study the general themes of engineering for the first two years, and then specialise in Mechanical Engineering in your third.
Imperial College London – Department of Mechanical Engineering – (Four Year MEng Course)
Imperial College require you get A*AAA or A*AA at A Level. You must have Maths and Physics and at least one other relevant A Level from Biology, Chemistry, Economics, Design and Technology or Further Maths. You must also have at least a B in GCSE English Language. There is the option to study abroad for the final year of your degree.
University of Bristol – Faculty of Engineering – (Three year BEng course or a Four Year MEng course)
Bristol are very flexible with their offers. You can expect anything from A*AA including maths and Physics, to AAA including Maths, Further maths and Physics, for both the BEng and the MEng. Once again, there is the option to spend the last year of your study abroad.
University of Bath – Department of Mechanical Engineering – (Four Year MEng Course or Five Year with a Placement)
A typical offer from Bath will be A*AA at A Level. Maths and Physics are required, and you will need an A* in one of those. Their industry placement programme takes place in Year 2, and you could find yourself working at Rolls Royce, Dyson, Airbus UK, Williams F1 or McLaren Automotive.
University of Southampton – Engineering and the Environment – (Three year BEng course or a Four Year MEng course)
Expect an offer of A*AA at A Level from Southampton. The A* will have to be in Maths, and you will need a further A Level in another science subject such as Physics, Biology, Chemistry, Further Maths, Geology or Geography. Southampton offer a very diverse selection of degree courses. You can study Mechanical Engineering with a number of other subjects like Aerospace, Automotive, Mechatronics and Naval Engineering.
Once I’m there, what sort of things can I expect?
Mechanical Engineering is one of the broadest schools of engineering, with many different sides to it. It is quite often associated with the automotive or aerospace industries, and while a lot of mechanical engineering is done in those two industries there is a great deal more to it than that. Mechanical Engineering is the study, analysis, design, manufacture and maintenance of any mechanical system. This includes planes, cars and space shuttles, but also more everyday things like air conditioning systems, medical prosthetics and everyday household objects.
During your course, whatever strand of mechanical engineering you specialise in, a great deal of emphasis will be placed on design and modelling. Expect a heady combination of scientific and mathematical theory, computer aided design and engineering, and practical application. Nearly every single course will require you to research and design at least one major project, often in teams.
As a rule, the first two years of your degree will be spent acquiring the basic engineering building blocks, concepts and skills offered on any kind of engineering course. You will specialise in your chosen field in your third years, and if you are doing a course with study abroad, that will probably take place in your final year.
Expect to spend a lot of time in university, at classes, lectures, tutorials, in the library and working in your own time. It is a tough subject and makes great demands on you.
What skills will I develop?
You will develop a great deal of skills in your time at university, besides the obvious Mechanical Engineering skills of being able to design and build a project from conception to completion. A lot of the time engineering is a team game, and you will find yourself working with groups of other people most of the time. Your interpersonal skills will need to be fantastic. And you will develop this at university.
What sort of job can I get at the end of my degree?
Excellent. A 2010 survey put over 60% of Mechanical Engineering graduates in employment in the UK or overseas in roles directly relating to their degree course. Mechanical Engineering offers some of the most sought after careers in the engineering industry. You could find yourself working in the automotive, aerospace, construction, manufacturing and energy industries for some seriously big names.